The History of Drones
The Austrians attacked Venice with ‘drones’ in the form of explosives attached to balloons.
The Ruston Proctor Aerial Target was the first pilotless winged aircraft made in history. It was the foundation that encouraged further research for UAV’s to be used as weapons in the war.
A world first, the Kettering Bug was designed to be a self-flying aerial torpedo. Around 50 were made to be used in WWI but the war ended before they could take to the skies.
The ‘Larynx’ was a British aircraft used as a cruise missile in the Navy and was guided by semi-auto pilot.
1931 – 1935
Following the Larynx, the British created several radio-controlled targets called ‘Fairey Queen’ and ‘DH.82B Queen Bee’. They were to be used for training purposes.
The Radioplane OQ-2 was the first mass-produced drone in America. It became the most widely used drone, with over 9,400 built during WWII.
Germany developed the V1 and V2 rockets in WWII. They were filled with explosives and fired at random to unsuspecting victims rather than used for surveillance and become one of the first un-piloted air weapons.
The Israeli Air Force triumphed against Syria in the Lebanon war. A Western-equipped air force had never defeated a Soviet-built surface to air missile network. It is regarded as one of the biggest air battles since WWII.
The US and Israel worked together to build the RQ2 Pioneer, a reconnaissance aircraft.
General Atomics bought the rights for Israel’s UAV. Small scale and micro UAVs were then introduced to the market.
The Pentagon signed a deal with General Atomic to make further improvements to the design. They were quieter, faster and stronger than ever. They eventually became the GNAT 750-45. Also known as the Predator.
2 GNAT 750 drones were purchased by the CIA and deployed for surveillance purposes over Yugoslavia during the Bosnian war.
From 1994 came the first Predator drones. The US deployed one in Afghanistan to aid locating Osama Bin Laden. At the end of the year, the United States Air Force (USAF) give the go ahead to arm the drones with missiles.
After 9/11, the CIA pursued targeted kill missions with drones for anyone in connection with the twin towers attacks.
Safety and usage concerns led the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to create commercial drone permits.
French company Parrot released their quadcopter AR Drone, the first commercially successful consumer drone. It was also the first of its kind able to be controlled solely by a Wi-Fi connection.
Drones continue to be a concern as a potential threat to national security. Airports in the UK and US canceled and delayed flights due to drone exposure.